Yama (moral codes) – Ashtanga Yoga Practice

Yama has various meanings depending on the contexts. Basically, this part of Yoga deals with certain moral codes or restraints. It can also be known as the attitude or behavior.  The Sage Patanjali Yoga Sutras deals with five behavioral patterns to be adopted for establishing a better relationship between an individual and the society.

AHIMSA (Non-Violence) “ Ahimsa or Non-Violence is the awareness to practice non-violence in action, speech and thoughts. It supports the practice of love, understanding, compassion, worthiness and patience. It guides one to follow the practice of not being cruel or not to hurt any individual or creature on earth. It conveys an inner meaning that emphasizes on being considerate towards every creature on earth.

SATYA (Truthfulness) –  Patanjali defines truthfulness as To be in harmony with mind, word and action, to conduct speech and mind according to truth, to express through speech and to retain it in the intellect what has been seen, understood or heard. A person is considered to be the perfect follower of Satya or truthfulness if his words express the same thing that is in his mind and proves it through his action.

ASTEYA (Non-stealing) “ Asteya emphasizes on abstaining from unauthorized possession of speech, thought and action. Asteya is also against covetousness. It advises developing self-sufficiency and completeness for progressing beyond basic desires. In other words a person must learn to refrain oneself from the desire to possess something which does not belong to him/her from the bottom of his consciousness.

BRAHMACHARYA (Celibacy) “ Brahmacharya is glorified in the Vedas, Puranas and Smritis. It is considered to be a behavior that brings a man closer to the Divine. Brahmacharya emphasizes on abstaining from all kinds of sensual pleasures whether physical, mental or vocal. Brahmacharya is a path towards essential truth and suggests that one must abstain from relationships which could deter one from reaching the eternal truth. Brahmacharya does not only imply celibacy. It actually means behaving with responsibility and respect towards the ultimate aim of moving towards truthfulness.

APARIGRAHA (Non-covetousness) “ This literally leads one to remain detached from worldly pleasures. This can be attained only if one is totally detached from all sensual pleasures and completely refrains from violence of any kind.

Thus, on the whole, the Yama are the moral assets, if practiced helps in purifying human nature, and contributes to peace and happiness in the society.